The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Across the Pond

Saying goodbye
Photo by Maggie O’Brien
Across the Pond visual made by Maggie O’Brien.

With my trip abroad coming to an end, many questions have arisen.

For example:

How am I going to fit everything I brought plus everything I bought into two suitcases that were already at the maximum weight when I got here?

Also, how on earth am I going to drag said suitcases up four flights of stairs and then get them the 48 miles to London Heathrow Airport in time for a 9 a.m. flight?

I’ve answered the second question for the most part. A few Eau Claire friends and I booked a bus and a hotel room for the day before the flight. The first is a work in progress if the floor of my dorm being completely covered in clothes can be considered progress.

In recent years, I’ve become very interested in fashion and clothes, and shopping in Europe makes it pretty easy to ignore my ever-growing credit card bill. 

As the owner of many, many clothes — two closets, a couple of shelves, a dresser and four bins under my bed’s worth, to be exact — I knew I’d have to pace myself. I’ve done a pretty good job of it, too.

I only let myself buy things that are “special” and didn’t let myself purchase an item of clothing unless I could say exactly how I’d style it and when I’d wear it.

I wore a denim dress I bought from a charity shop in Winchester and a purse I bought at a market in Florence to dinner with my friends Mel and Addie.

A lot of these special items came from charity shops. Thrifting here is a lot different than it is in the U.S., with no massive Goodwills. Charity shops are on the smaller side but tend to have higher-quality items.

I’ve become the owner of a couple of new dresses and skirts thanks to these shops. I love seeing the differences between American and European fashion, and every time I buy a new piece, I think about how cool it’ll be to see it in my closet next to everything I already own.

Then this excitement turns into sadness when I think about packing up my room and leaving my friends. And this sadness turns into happiness when I think about seeing my friends at home. Then this happiness turns into frustration when I remember I’ll still have final assignments to finish when I’m back in my hometown.

My emotions have been in a constant state of motion for the past two weeks. I’m beyond exhausted, and I’m giving myself whiplash.

My mantra of, “It’ll be fine. I have time,” has become “It’ll be fine, probably. I have three days,” which then becomes “Oh my god, I have three days.”

My new best friends Holly and Mel are going to be one of my hardest goodbyes. (Photo by Kyra Price)


Studying abroad has been a life-changing experience. I’ve grown as a person and learned things I didn’t even know there were to learn.

I’ve gained independence and confidence, and I’ve found comfort in realizing the world isn’t quite as big as I thought it was.

I’m sad about leaving, ready to go home and absolutely terrified to try to fit back into life as it was before.

The world didn’t stop moving while I was gone, and I’m not the same person I was when I left, so how am I supposed to fit into a mold that might not exist anymore? I’m not even the same shape as I used to be.

I’m trying hard to focus on living in the moment. Yes, I leave in a few days but I still have tomorrow. 

Tomorrow I will see my friends and we’ll get coffee and laugh together. Tomorrow I have time to put clothes in suitcases and finish up my first assignment. Tomorrow isn’t decided for me and I don’t have to fit into a mold to live it.

And soon, the tomorrows will be back in the U.S. And tomorrow I’ll see my friends and we’ll get coffee and laugh together. Tomorrow I’ll have time to take my clothes out of my suitcases and finish my other assignments.

Nothing is decided for me yet. I may have grown and changed, but I’m still me. I have a lot to think about and a lot to do, but tomorrow is a piece of cake after navigating a whole other continent for the past four months.

I took a weekend trip to Vienna, Austria at the end of my spring break trip through Greece and Italy. (Photo by Kyra Price)

I took myself to five different countries, survived a sinus infection and bronchitis, made a group of best friends and still made it to (most of) my classes.

I’m stressed and exhausted, but I’m proud of myself and I’m beyond grateful for the new worldview I’ve gained from this experience.

Price can be reached at [email protected].

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    Gretchen RochaMay 11, 2024 at 7:49 pm

    Loved following your journey!